I Don’t Have Malaria. I Have Cellulose.

There’s nothing like the thought of losing your life to get you back on track, is there?

Last week I found myself in agonizing pain. I had tremors in the night and frequently broke out into sweats. My throat was dry. My entire body was wracked with pain. And I had the sniffles. I instantly knew what was going on in my body: It was malaria. God awful, red blood cell depleting malaria.

What was I going to do?

I called into work on Saturday morning and explained my symptoms to my manager. Being from Nigeria, he was all too familiar with them.

“Eh? You know they can’t cure that thing here o!” he warned ominously with a laugh. (Why do Nigerians always laugh in the face of calamity, anyway?) “The only thing they’ll do in this America is quarantine you.”

“Hmmm…I know,” I said solemnly.

I had a friend in England who contracted malaria while on a recent trip to Ghana and the doctors were at a complete loss as to how to treat her. As my manager said, they merely quarantined her.

“You berra go and find an Indian doctor quick-quick!” he advised.

“I will,” I replied. “Anyway, you’ll see me at 10:00 according to the schedule.”

He didn’t offer to let me stay home, so that was that. As promised, I showed up to work and tried to make myself useful.

It was no use.

Every time I spoke to a customer I had a coughing fit. Every time I bent over, I came up feeling lightheaded. All I wanted to do was go home. I told my manager as much.

“Look at the way you are sweating, joh!” he exclaimed. “Yes, yes. Please. When the next person comes in, go home.”

I was grateful.

As I climbed into bed, I wondered how this had come upon me so quickly. I replayed every bite I had gotten while on vacation in Ghana. I had been so careful with the bug repellent. I rarely got bitten at all! But getting malaria is like losing your virginity: it only takes one good penetration to achieve an undesirable result.

I immediately cursed Mildred, the airport worker  who had injected me with a syringe full of nothing and charged me $15 for it. She had done this to me. SHE had sealed my doom. That wretched, wretched woman!

Marshall came to my side and lovingly administered pain medication to me.

“This is Advil Cold & Flu,” he whispered softly as he offered me a tall glass of water to drink it down.

I look at him contemptuously.

“I have MALARIA, not a cold!” I spat.

“Still, it will help with your congestion,” he said soothingly.

“I’m not congested,” I wailed. “I’m in pain. Terrible pain!”

“It will help with that too.”

I don’t remember what or if he said anything after that. Soon, I was fast asleep. And a funny thing happened the next morning: I felt better. 50% better, in fact. It was a miracle! I told my husband as much.

“Well that’s good,” he smiled. “I’m glad you’re doing better, even if it’s moderately so.”

“I know right. It’s amazing! How did Advil cure my….”

And then it dawned on me. I did not have malaria at all – and never did.

You see, Reader, I have been working out religiously every day since I turned 35. I figure this is my last year to get in shape before I lose all the elasticity in my skin and my body goes directly to hell. I have a routine that includes the elliptical machine and the tread mill. I rarely deviate from it. Now, last week, I was approached by one of the trainers at LA Fitness, peddling a “health assessment.”

I told him to git gwine far away from me.

He was shocked.

I was ever so serious.

He was persistent, and I finally agreed to take on his challenge. No muscle bound man with wavy hair was going to punk me! I am an African woman, after all. I had to rep for my race and my sex. He took me through the most painful work out I’ve had in my life. He did things to my body that no man has ever done, nor will do again…BUT I completed his routine, which included an immeasurable number of squats, lunges and about half a dozen inappropriate things with a medicine ball.

“Congratulations,” he said with genuine surprise. “Most people don’t ever finish the assessment.”

“Uh huh…” I gasped. Screw you and your assessment.

“Well if you ever need a person trainer…”

“I don’t want you  or anyone else coming near me!” I wheezed.

“Most people say ‘no’,” he admitted with a snicker.

I told him I was off to the sauna to sweat out some of this pain and thanked him for his time.

That’s when I caught “malaria.”

The work out was so intense I thought a tropical disease had manifested in my body. Go ahead. Say it.

Oooo chale! Shyous!!!

Have you ever worked out so hard you thought you were sick? Or studied so hard you thought you had gone mad? Or prayed (or smoked) so hard you thought  you were Jesus? Marinate on that for a while.